The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife, c.1854
Watercolour, 51.2 x 80.2 cm
Purchased, London, Agnew's, 1967
It is unclear why Maclise painted the smaller watercolour version of the marriage of Strongbow and Aoife, and while similar in composition, it differs from the oil painting in a number of details. The lighting is less dramatic and more even in tone, giving the image a more graphic quality. The colour palette is much brighter; the calm sky is bright blue and a rainbow curves over the scene lending the image a feeling of optimism and hope. The harp strings, which are broken in the oil, are intact. In the watercolour Aoife’s bridesmaids are depicted as martyrs, wearing white and carrying palms, while in the oil, they carry jewelled caskets.